(Note: All names are changed whenever I talk about clients).
“So, Michael, how are you doing today?” I asked my client our usual question at the beginning of our treatment session and placed a copy of the “Blob Tree” in front of him.
Two seconds earlier, Michael had been pouring out his excitement over the approach of Christmas and eagerly reporting the exact number of days remaining until that anticipated day. But the second he looked at the “Blob Tree” his face fell.
After a few quiet moments, he finally said…
“This one is me.”
The sadness in his voice sobered me.
Suspecting I already knew the answer, I still asked, “Why is that one you?”
Briefly meeting my eyes, he said, “Because this is my last night with you. And I really like you, but I won’t get to see you anymore.”
I couldn’t help but think of how happy he had been to see me after my maternity leave and now here we were having to say goodbye again.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.
Tears slowly started to fill his eyes.
“Oh, Michael, I’m sorry,” I said again, “I want you to know that if I could, I would keep seeing you.”
How could I explain to him the state of the economy and the need for my boss and I to renegotiate our contract? And that my refusal to work earlier hours led to a compromise of me cutting down to only one night a week? And that my clientele needed to be adjusted to accommodate the new agreement and he was no longer on my caseload?
So instead, I reached over to the “Blob Tree” and said, “You know what?”
I waited for him to look at me.
“This one is me,” I told him quietly, “Because I am so glad that I got to meet you and work with you. You are a great young man. And even though we won’t be able to see each other anymore, I’m so lucky that I got to spend this time with you. You are my friend. And I will miss you.”
His tears spilled over and he wiped at his cheeks as his lips trembled.
I gently reached out and squeezed his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Michael,” I said again, then quietly said, “If you’d like, you can pick whatever game you want to play while we work. And afterward, you get to pick something out of the treasure chest.”
The tears immediately stopped and his wonderfully bright smile returned.
“Really?!?” he exclaimed.
“Really,” I nodded with a warm smile.
He bounded out of his chair and into the hallway. I shook my head as I followed him into the fine motor room where all the games were stored.
Oh, how I will miss this boy, I thought.